Today lets explore the idea of keeping within time. Have you ever sat through a presentation where the speaker went over time? Or started late? How did you feel when it was past time and the speaker still wasn’t done (a sign of poor listening and presentation skills). Were you looking at your watch? Did you start to worry if you’re going to be late for your next meeting?
You could be delivering your greatest speech ever, but if you disrespect the clock, you’ll go from being in a shining moment to being a hostage taker. You’ll be the barrier that keeps them from moving on with their day.
Lets face it, there’s only so much information a person can take at any given moment. Trying to force more information in will, as Craig Valentine says, force your audience out.
Here are some suggestions for keeping within time:
1) Have a time keeper or keep a watch on you. In Toastmasters, this isn’t an issue because there’s always a time keeper. However, in the boardroom, at a trade show or at a keynote, consider asking someone to give you a signal at certain times such as the half way mark and the 5 minute warning. If you’re giving a question and answer session, ask your time keeper to time that as well for you.
2) When preparing, budget your time beforehand. For example, if you’re giving a 45 minute keynote and you have 3 main points, you could budget 10 minutes per main point, 5 minutes for your opening, 5 minutes for your closing and 5 minutes for your introducer to introduce you and close the session after your speech. If you find that your time has been cut down to 35 minutes, consider dropping 1 main point to recoup those lost 10 minutes. Craig Valentine‘s “Create Your Killer Keynote” is a good reference for building a speech that will keep you in time.
3) If you run out of time, or find your time is running out, never never never start talking faster or squeeze in information. Just transition to your conclusion and conclude. If you still had 1 more point to make, then just say, “if I had more time, I would have talked about x”. This is actually a good thing. If you’ve kept your audience entranced and hanging on your every word then not getting to your final point would crate a desire to want more and thats the best outcome you could hope for from your audience. Rushing would only chaos and disorient your audience.
No matter what, if you find you’ve run out of time, gracefully conclude your presentation and respect the clock. Your audience will respect you for it.
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